Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has high praise for true freshman wide receiver Isaiah Ford.
In a bit of a surprise for a team that returns two starters and another part-time starter at the position, Ford has earned a starting spot for the Hokies for Saturday's season opener against FCS opponent William & Mary.
Beamer was asked at his weekly Monday news conference to compare Ford to a previous receiver he has coached.
"Maybe an Antonio Freeman?" Beamer said. "He makes plays. He's got some height to him."
Beamer is especially impressed with Ford's athleticism; Ford (6-foot-1, 174 pounds) plans to walk on to Virginia Tech's basketball team when the football season ends.
"There have been a lot of football guys that wanted to play basketball, but he's the first one I ever thought that actually could play basketball, too," Beamer said. "He's just a gifted athlete, he's got a great head on his shoulders, he's smart, he keeps everything in perspective. I think he's the real deal."
Tech has lacked a true go-to receiver for much of the past decade, and has had just two players with as many as 54 catches in the past seven seasons. Yes, the Hokies are a run-oriented team, but having a receiver who demands defensive attention is a need. Ford seems unlikely to be that guy this season -- the Hokies likely will look to sophomore Joshua Stanford to be that guy this fall -- but could develop into one in the next season or two.
Ford played at small-school powerhouse Jacksonville Trinity Christian in high school and was a consensus three-star recruit. He chose Virginia Tech over Arkansas, Louisville and Florida.